poems, 7.1

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© Lisa Sarasohn 2000

Notes on "St. Valentine's Day

He's a fiction:

St. Valentine is given a variety of biographies. According to one source he was a Christian martyr who died in Rome c. 270 A.D.

In old Ireland, for example, on the first of February we'd celebrate Imbolg

Traditionally the festival of Imbolg took place on February 1. Revised over time, it has become Groundhog Day in secular terms and Candlemas in the Christian calendar. The sense of Imbolg as a celebration of female sexuality still resonates through St. Valentine's Day, even though that day is celebrated on February 14, nearly two weeks after February 1

As Mary Daly points out in Pure Lust, other traditional festival dates have been shifted two weeks ahead in the calendar. For example, the pagan festival of the first bread, Lammas, traditionally occurred on August 1. Daly suggests that the Christian churchmen attempted to appropriate Lammas by scheduling the Feast of the Assumption on August 15. In recent centuries, she notes, celebrations associated with Lammas have taken place almost two weeks after August 1, corresponding to an alteration in the calendar in 1752.

In old Rome, we took February 15th:

February 15 was known both as Februa and as Lupercalia in ancient Rome. Lupercus was a folk deity associated with the Roman Faunus and the Greek Pan.

She who names the essence of a woman's soul:

As well as naming the Great Goddess, juno originally named the liveliness of a woman's soul. This double usage of juno signified that the Great Goddess was understood to be present within each woman as the vitality of her soul. In referring to men and their soul-essence, the counterpart of juno was genius, meaning "begetting father." Note that in modern usage, genius has been retained and juno has been lost.

and where the fever starts:

Words such as fever, febrile, and February have their origin in Februata as an epithet of the Great Goddess. The Latin juno may be related to the Greek ione meaning dove, the dove being an ancient symbol for the Goddess and her procreative power. The word ione may itself be derived from the Sanskrit yoni, meaning "vulva."

our love-note lots:

Even with the church's disapproval, people kept on drawing lots, called Valentines, to choose their sweethearts. In England, for example, the custom of drawing lots on Valentine's Eve to determine one's marriage partner continued through the 18th century.

the Valentinians, who took their name from Latin valentia, meaning strength:

As recorded in the Hebrew Bible, Hiram of Tyre cast the bronze furnishings for the temple King Solomon was erecting as the house of the Lord. He ornamented the pillars with pomegranates and lilies, symbols of female sexuality and the Goddess's sumptuous fertility. He named the pillar standing on the left side of the temple's vestibule Boaz, meaning "strength." In Biblical terms:

Then he made pomegranates in two rows all round on top of the ornamental network of the one pillar; he did the same with the other capital. (The capitals at the tops of the pillars in the vestibule were shaped like lilies and were four cubits high.) Upon the capitals at the tops of the two pillars, immediately above the cushion, which was beyond the network upwards, were two hundred pomegranates in rows all round on the two capitals. Then he erected the pillars at the vestibule of the sanctuary. [W]hen he had erected the one on the left side, he named it Boaz [meaning strength]. On the tops of the pillars was lily-work. (1 Kings 7:13-22)

Hiram was a citizen of Canaan, a civilization of goddess-worshiping people. I suspect that the Valentinians named themselves with the Latin word for "strength" in remembrance of Hiram's pillar on the left side, the female side, of Solomon's temple vestibule and in honor of the Feminine Divine.

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